CBI searches activist Harsh Mander’s home, office in FCRA violation probe | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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CBI searches activist Harsh Mander’s home, office in FCRA violation probe

Feb 02, 2024 05:11 PM IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has raided the residence and office of activist Harsh Mander as part of a probe into alleged violation of foreign contribution regulations by his NGO, Centre for Equity Studies. The ministry of home affairs had asked the CBI to investigate the funding of Mander's NGO, which allegedly acted as a conduit for transferring foreign contributions to non-FCRA associations. Mander's FCRA license was suspended last year. A case has been registered against Mander and CES.

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday carried out raids at the residence and office premises of retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and activist, Harsh Mander, as part of a probe into alleged violation of foreign contribution regulation act (FCRA) by a non-government organisation run by him, people familiar with the development said.

Former bureaucrat and activist Harsh Mander. (Amal KS/HT Photo)
Former bureaucrat and activist Harsh Mander. (Amal KS/HT Photo)

The ministry of home affairs had asked the central agency to look into the funding of Mander’s NGO, Centre for Equity Studies (CES), alleging that the organisation acted as a conduit for transferring foreign contribution received by it under the FCRA to non-FCRA associations.

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CES’s FCRA licence was suspended in June last year.

Officials cited above said a case has been registered against Mander and CES, of which he is the chairperson.

A CBI spokesperson said in a statement that “the NGO had transferred 32,71,915 other than salary or wages or remuneration from its FCRA account into the account of individual (s) during 2020-21 in violation of the provisions of FCRA, 2010”.

“The NGO had also diverted funds from its FCRA account through the firm (s) in violation of the provisions of FCRA, 2010,” the spokesperson said.

Asked for a comment, Mander said “My only response (to CBI action) is my life and my work”.

Former member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council during the erstwhile UPA government, is also the founder of NGO Aman Biradari Trust.

While suspending the FCRA licence of CES in June 2023, the MHA said while section 3 of FCRA prohibits acceptance of foreign contribution by correspondents, columnists, cartoonists, editor, owner, printer, publisher of a registered newspaper, Mander has regularly been writing columns for major English dailies.

“He accepted foreign contribution amounting to 12,64,671 during the financial year 2011-12 to 2017-18 as professional receipts or payments from the FCRA account of the association (CES). This is in violation of Sections 3 and 8 of the FCRA,” MHA said in its June 2023 order, seen by HT.

Also Read: MHA recommends CBI probe against Harsh Mander’s NGO for FCRA ‘violation

“The association has utilised foreign contribution for preparation and publication of reports in which non-FCRA association are one of the authors and such non-FCRA association have not contributed any funds for publication of such reports. The association has thus acted as conduit for the transfer of foreign contribution to non-FCRA associations. One such example is a report titled ‘Labouring Lives: Hunger Precarity and Despair amid Lockdown.

A Report by Centre for Equity Studies in collaboration with Delhi Research Group and Karwan-E-Mohabbat’ was published by CES in June 2020. Karwan-e-Mohabbat is a campaign run under the non-FCRA association Aman Biradari Trust (ABT) which is closely associated with Centre of Equity Studies and Harsh Mander,” said MHA order.

“Such utilisation of foreign contributions received by CES for preparing and publishing reports in the name of non-FCRA registered organizations (co-authors in addition to CES and donor organiations) amounts to violation of Section 7 of the Act,” it said.

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